“Good looking” is a phrase that is used widely in modern day Chinese. It encompasses perceptions of beauty that affect the experiences of people in their everyday lives. Although it features as common everyday vocabulary, its gradual use has left the term empty and banal. Often it is a word used freely without any specificity, relevance or sense of purpose. Because of the emotional connotations of “good looking”, it has transformed into a trend that has slowly become an empty phrase used superficially to compliment others. Back to the exhibition context, the meaning of a “good looking” exhibition can be one defined as: one without problems, without any mistakes, but also it is an exhibition that cannot contain any surprises for audiences. Usually the walls are carefully painted evenly with a pale uniform light – most likely it will be a modest space, but with some political coercion to ensure the ‘correct’ and ‘proper’ aesthetics for the work. A “good looking” film is one where there is never a dull moment. It’s a ‘too many things for the eye to take in’ kind of feature film. So in actual fact, the meaning of “good looking” has devalued, because its use has been inflated in our vocabulary and aesthetic.
In order to use language to describe and detail an object or experience, vocabulary creates a structure that is detached from reality. As far as audiences and reviewers are concerned, concepts of realism or truth are often entangled with processes of language – these are areas that are determined from an emotive interaction with visual reality that constitutes our sensory experiences. “Good looking” is an intangible phrase that is diversely embedded with values of entitlement, identity, subjectivity, and the functioning of a “non-objective” reality. The surplus connotations generated from the word “good looking” should be more inclusive from different perspectives and more nuanced in the uncovering of the everyday. Included in this group exhibition are the artists He Chi, Li Qing, Liang Shuo, Shi Qing, Xu Tan and Zhang Hui. These artists each have different creative experiences and backgrounds. The material used to produce the works incorporate a wide range of media such as painting, sculpture, and mixed media installations. In the artists’ vision “good looking” has been used as a departure point for artistic reflection, creativity, and conceptual thinking. It is also a concept that is implicated in the embodiment of ideas and divergent positions related to the commercial contemporary artworld and an analysis of universal cultural values.
Regardless whether or not the artworks allude to the state of reality or the imaginary artistic ego, with their unique insights, the artists have come together to embody the title of the show, Surplus Goodlookingness. As the audience engages with the artwork they will discover a more comprehensive line of thinking, which extends to areas of social life, learning processes, the formation of habits, and their social conventions. What is provided is an entry point into understanding the processes and development of space that constitute the fabric of our society.